Military Operations and Capabilities Issue Area Plan--Fiscal Years 1995-98

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-04-01.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

               United States General Accounting Office

GAO            National Security and International
               Affairs Division

April 1997
               Military Operations and
               Capabilities Issue Area
               Fiscal Years 1995-98


               As the investigative arm of Congress and the nation’s auditor, the General
               Accounting Office is charged with following the federal dollar wherever it
               goes. Reflecting stringent standards of objectivity and independence, GAO’s
               audits, evaluations, and investigations promote a more efficient and
               cost-effective government; expose waste, fraud, abuse, and
               mismanagement in federal programs; help Congress target budget
               reductions; assess financial information management; and alert Congress
               to developing trends that may have significant fiscal or budgetary
               consequences. In fulfilling its responsibilities, GAO performs original
               research and uses hundreds of databases or creates its own when
               information is unavailable elsewhere.

               To ensure that GAO’s resources are directed toward the most important
               issues facing Congress, each of GAO’s 32 issue areas develops a strategic
               plan that describes the significance of the issues it addresses, its
               objectives, and the focus of its work. Each issue area relies heavily on
               input from congressional committees, agency officials, and subject-matter
               experts in developing its strategic plan.

               The Military Operations and Capabilities issue area covers programs of the
               Department of Defense, the individual military services, and other
               supporting defense agencies. GAO’s work in this issue area includes
               assessments of military planning activities; the Department of Defense’s
               (DOD) budgeting for operation and maintenance (O&M); the capability,
               performance, readiness, and sustainability of military forces, weapons, and
               support systems; and initiatives aimed at maintaining a quality force. The
               principal issues covered are

           •   the accuracy of budget estimates for DOD’s O&M account and the potential
               for greater savings and efficiencies;
           •   the capability of military forces, weapons, and support systems to carry
               out their expected roles in the National Military Strategy and their
               performance in actual operations;
           •   the readiness and sustainability of military forces to perform their
               assigned missions and the potential to enhance or sustain readiness at less
               cost; and
           •   the effectiveness of DOD’s efforts to recruit and retain a quality force, and
               maintain needed quality of life programs.

               In the pages that follow, we describe our key planned work on these
               critical defense issues.

               Page 1                                                            GAO/IAP-97-2

Because events may significantly affect even the best of plans and because
periodic measurement of success against any plan is essential, our
planning process allows for updating and the flexibility to respond quickly
to emerging issues. If you have any questions or suggestions about this
plan, please call me at (202) 512-5140.

Mark E. Gebicke
Director, Military Operations
  and Capabilities Issues

Page 2                                                          GAO/IAP-97-2

Table I: Key Issues
Table II: Planned
Major Work
Table III: GAO

                      Page 3   GAO/IAP-97-2
Table I: Key Issues

Issue                                                           Significance
Planning and budgeting:                                     Members of Congress have had dual concerns that DOD has
Have DOD and the military services prepared accurate O&M overbudgeted for some items while underbudgeting for others. The latter
budgets, and are there opportunities to reduce these costs? concern is apt to take on even greater significance as budget pressures
                                                            continue and pressures build to devote a greater portion of defense
                                                            resources to modernization. At the same time, both Congress and the
                                                            administration are eager to identify opportunities to reduce O&M costs.
                                                            Our identification of potential reductions can interject greater
                                                            accountability into the budgeting process and permit reallocation of
                                                            funds where needed.

Capabilities and performance:                                   Successful military operations are predicated on the presumption that
Has DOD fielded capable forces, weapon systems, and             critical functional force elements and weapon systems can achieve their
support elements, and are they performing as expected?          mission. Our assessments will identify critical shortfalls that could
                                                                jeopardize operations as well as excess capabilities that might be
                                                                eliminated and thereby assist future decisions on force structure,
                                                                training, and capital investments. Examining performance in exercises
                                                                and actual operations provides the best indicator of capability.

Readiness and sustainability:                                   Congress wants to avoid a return to a “hollow” force, unprepared to fight
Are U.S. military forces ready to effectively carry out their   the nation’s wars. Readiness problems, however, may, in fact, reflect
assigned missions, can supporting systems sustain them,         poor resource allocation decisions, or failure to recognize more
and can readiness be sustained or enhanced at less cost?        cost-effective opportunities to sustain or even enhance training. Better
                                                                management of defense resources may be the key to ensuring needed
                                                                readiness in a constrained resource environment.

Quality of the force:                                           A smaller military must emphasize quality, continuity, and high morale.
Do DOD and the military services have effective programs to     Sound recruiting efforts, meaningful training, career development
recruit and retain a quality force, and maintain needed         opportunities, and effective quality-of-life programs are essential if DOD
quality-of-life programs?                                       is to retain a quality force.

                                                Page 4                                                                       GAO/IAP-97-2
                                                  Table I: Key Issues

Objectives                                                                  Focus of Work
• Examine adequacy of justifications associated with DOD’s O&M budget       • Critical reviews of DOD’s annual O&M budget requests to
requests with an emphasis on identifying requests that are greater than     identify potential savings.
documented requirements.

• Target selected budget/program items for in-depth evaluation to better    • More detailed reviews of selected DOD O&M programs
identify the potential for reductions.                                      to identify potential reductions.

• Examine outsourcing/privatization and other options for meeting base      • Critical reviews of outsourcing/privatization initiatives and
operations and facilities infrastructure needs at less cost.                case studies to identify industry best practices applicable
                                                                            to government.
• Alert Congress and DOD to limitations and imbalances in selected          • Reviews to assess whether imbalances exist in ways,
operational capabilities.                                                   means, and ends of selected capability areas in
                                                                            relationship to requirements. Also, reviews of the adequacy
• Evaluate the adequacy of DOD actions taken to properly size forces        of actions taken to correct shortfalls and eliminate
according to their anticipated missions.                                    excesses in various capability areas.

                                                                            • Assessments of the performance of selected functional
• Identify performance shortfalls that could undermine success in future    capabilities in recent operations.
• Provide Congress with data important to tracking trends in readiness   • Aggregation, retention, and analysis of readiness
and identifying reasons for any variances. Also, determine whether       indicator data developed by the services and reported to
readiness indicators used by DOD and the services provide a reliable and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
comprehensive assessment of readiness.

• Identify ways to maintain readiness at lower cost.                        • Reviews to determine effectiveness of training and
                                                                            exercises in preparing forces for combat, and identify
                                                                            opportunities to accomplish this at a lower cost.

                                                                            • Reviews of sustainment functions to identify excesses
• Assess whether maintenance, supply, and other support systems             that divert funds from more productive uses and shortages
effectively and efficiently ensure readiness.                               that hamper readiness.

• Assess DOD’s efforts to provide the necessary incentives to recruit and   • Assessments of DOD and service force management
retain a quality force.                                                     issues such as recruiting, attrition, and grade structure.

                                                                            • Assessments of the force balance occurring through
• Determine if DOD’s drawdown is achieving a balanced active, reserve,      various downsizing actions (military and civilian).
and civilian workforce.
                                                                            • Evaluations of quality-of-life initiatives such as enlisted
                                                                            and family housing, and other family support programs.
• Assess the efficacy of ongoing quality-of-life initiatives.

                                                  Page 5                                                                      GAO/IAP-97-2
Table II: Planned Major Work

               Issue                    Planned Major Job Starts
               Planning and budgeting   •Evaluation of DOD’s fiscal year 1998 O&M budget
                                        •Lessons learned from large-scale base support
                                        •Reducing O&M in family housing
                                        •Reserve component planning and budgeting for

               Capabilities and         •DOD’s role in antiterrorism
               performance              •DOD’s critical battlefield information systems
                                        •DOD’s determination of future medical personnel
                                        •Bosnia lessons learned
                                        •Conflicts/impediments to increased jointness

               Readiness and            •Review of safety principles used in dangerous military
               sustainability           training
                                        •Potential savings from increased use of simulation
                                        •Impact of the Army’s battlefield digitization effort
                                        •Best practices in applying distance learning to training
                                        •Update on comprehensive system to measure readiness
                                        •Follow-up on ammunition management in the United

               Quality of the force     •Improvements in DOD’s joint manpower process
                                        •Enlisted force grade structure increases
                                        •First-term attrition
                                        •Military recruiters’ quota systems
                                        •DOD’s unaccompanied housing program

               Page 6                                                               GAO/IAP-97-2
Table III: GAO Contacts

Director              Mark E. Gebicke         (202) 512-5140

Associate Director    Sharon A. Cekala        (202) 512-5140

Assistant Directors   Edward M. Balderson
                      William E. Beusse
                      Brenda S. Farrell
                      Barry W. Holman
                      Reginald L. Furr, Jr.
                      Valeria G. Gist
                      William C. Meredith
                      Donald L. Patton
                      Elliott C. Smith
                      William M. Solis

                      Page 7                                   GAO/IAP-97-2
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